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Wed 18 Sep 2019 06:58 PM

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Saudi Arabia says Aramco attacks 'sponsored by Iran'

Saudi defence ministry displays parts of drones and missiles labeled as Iranian-made

Saudi Arabia says Aramco attacks 'sponsored by Iran'

Saudi Arabia on Wednesday said weekend attacks on the kingdom’s critical oil infrastructure were “unquestionably sponsored by Iran,” adding the strikes originated from the north and therefore weren’t launched from Yemeni territory.

“Despite Iran’s effort to make it appear so,” the attack didn’t originate from Yemen, said Turki al-Maliki, a spokesman for the Saudi defense ministry. “Data analysis of the attack sites indicate weapons of Iranian origin.”

Parts of drones and missiles he said were recovered from the oil facilities and which were labeled as Iranian-made were put on display at the briefing.

Iran has denied responsibility, with President Hassan Rouhani saying it was carried out by Yemeni rebels fighting the Saudi-led coalition.

Just before the press briefing, President Donald Trump said that he has decided to increase US sanctions on Iran following the attacks that raised tensions in the energy-producing region.

“I have just instructed the Secretary of the Treasury to substantially increase Sanctions on the country of Iran!” Trump said in a tweet, without giving further details.

Trump has been ramping up sanctions on the Islamic Republic since quitting the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, including severe restrictions on the ability of Tehran to sell oil.

Additional economic sanctions could be a route to avoiding direct military conflict with Iran following the weekend attacks. While Trump initially said the US is “locked and loaded” to respond, he has since signaled that he isn’t eager for another Middle East conflict.

Iran’s economy has already been under severe pressure from existing sanctions, yet some analysts said there are still a number of potential targets for restrictions, including some in the construction sector, additional companies on the Tehran stock exchange and foundations controlled by the regime or Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

But with the vast majority of Iran’s economy dependent on oil sales, additional sanctions may have little more than a marginal impact.

Al-Maliki showed surveillance video purporting to show drones moving in a north to south direction. “We are working right now to share the information that we have from the data, from the chips, with the United Nations experts,” he said.

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